Abandoned Growth Area --
The Devil's Triangle
IN 1998, the Baptist Union of NSW requested informal discussions
about the future of Sydney's Inner Western/Inner Southern churches.
Peter Green plotted on a map a "primary mission area"
for the churches closest to the city. This "primary mission
area" was defined by a 1km radius from the location of each
church. That is an easy range for most people to walk to church.
left a large triangle of Sydney without Baptist outreach. Apart
from Waterloo Christian Life Centre (at the apex of the triangle)
and some Catholic churches, there was little Christian effort
there at all. Peter dubbed it "The Devil's Triangle",
because the Churches seemed to have left it to Satan.
is one of Sydney's growth areas, covering the new Green Square
and Alexandria residential redevelopments, as well as established
residential areas around Botany.
about the struggling inner suburban churches, when such a vast
area is untouched by the gospel. These churches are no longer
failing relics of a long gone suburban petit bourgeoisie. They
are under-equipped, demoralised front-line troops resisting Satan's
Street Mission is anxious to begin working in this area!
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MISSION HAS discussed the lack of Baptist work in "The Devil's
Triangle", that wedge made up of South Sydney and Botany
Local Government Areas together with parts of surrounding LGAs.
Few churches are active here, and Baptists are unrepresented.
accompanying diagram shows the Inner Ring suburbs of Sydney (Schematic
years ago, a Planner at Leichhardt Council introduced the concept
of "Inner Ring Suburbs" into the Planning vocabulary
for Sydney. He argued that the Local Government Areas closest
to Sydney share characteristics distinguishing them from both
the inner city and the outlying suburbs.
IN A NEGLECTED AREA
Good access to the CBD
Poor quality housing stock.
High density living
add to that picture:
Struggling churches and large areas of spiritual neglect.
Low income levels
High NESB representation
Mixture of residential and industrial uses
Established services often inappropriate to current needs
number of local Pastors have been consulting, and Peter Green
has gathered information about these areas and the issues they
face. The accompanying diagram shows that "neglected area."
The crosses mark existing
Church memberships in the surrounding areas range from under
12 at Banksia and Marrickville to about 200 at Central Baptist.
smaller churches are predominantly in the Inner Ring Local Government
and Marrickville Churches have progressed furthest in seeking
solutions to the identified problems, which include --
Struggling existing congregations
High maintenance costs on properties
Limited resources for ministry
Lack of penetration into untouched areas.
suggest amalgamation of Inner Ring churches into a single
large congregation. However this would mean the loss of valuable
ministries in the various localities.
Pastor suggested a second model, of closer association
between the Inner Ring churches, and some sharing of resources
without any formal union.
Pastor faces different problems. Their buildings are generally
in good condition and require little maintenance. But the members
are not very mobile. Few own cars. The age of the members has
been a limiting factor in the Church's ministries in recent years.
third pastor has also expressed an interest in closer association
with other Baptist Churches, but notes their difficulties in
that very few members live in the area because of high housing
the other hand, the key Calvinistic Baptist Church in the area,
which already attracts people from a regional catchment, finds
little to attract it in either an amalgamation or an association
solution discussed in the Mission's Meetings was formation
of a regional church with branch congregations in existing
centres such as Leichhardt and Marrickville, but relying more
on community facilities than on owning buildings. In this model,
existing pastors would retain oversight of their congregations,
but would also participate in a combined team.
would still attend to local affairs, but the regional church
could also call on participating congregations to share in larger
projects, and there would probably have to be some funds equalisation
way of contrast, the Association scheme, while offering some
advantages of sharing equipment and perhaps producing common
materials, would not solve the problems of decaying buildings,
small congregations etc. However, such a group of churches could
use the same promotional materials or produce a common newsletter;
one could become a clearing house for information for all; pastors
could meet for support and encouragement.
mixed model is also possible, where some churches choose
to combine, but others, while not choosing that route, may still
wish to be in an association-type relationship with the combining
of the issues to take into account are:
What are the advantages of the different models? Will they --
better use of resources?
reduce pressure to maintain the status quo and increase the ability
to respond to
local and regional demands?
maintain existing valuable ministries?
enable us to serve others in their areas of lack?
we do whatever we propose without violating important Baptist
Would such changes be feasible, given the setting we find ourselves
has been determined yet; but it is an issue for constant and
pointed prayer and much earnest thought.
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HAVE DISCUSSED outreach into Alexandria, but the project has
lain in abeyance until now.
Sitompul indicates that the Indonesian congregation would also
be interested in reaching out to this neglected area. There is
potential for an effective work if we work together, using the
combined skills of both groups.
two pastors travelled into the area, and looked at the potential.
There will be an influx of population into the southern end of
Mitchell Street from early 1999, with some further tailing out
up almost to Erskineville.
looked at potential sites to begin a ministry, and two have been
identified initially, but enquiries will be needed before we
can say with certainty that either would work. Please pray for
we can formulate a viable proposal, we could approach the Baptist
Union for some funding, if needed, to get the project underway.
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us 10 am Sundays. Prayer meeting 7:30 pm Friday